Today I'll discuss key factors that allowed him, and other scholars, to rise to prominence in the 9th–10th c.
Without further ado...
Abū Zurʿa's father was a minor hadith scholar in Damascus and he introduced his son to the city's scholarly community at a young age.
(Two of AZ's uncles also dabbled in the transmission of hadith) -rh
And Abū Zurʿa reports traveling to Ramla w/ his father as a young boy to hear hadith. So I'd call this a head start on acquiring ʿilm. -rh
And AZ's primary Damascene teachers—Abū Mushir & Duḥaym—also both came from multigenerational scholarly families.
Similar to being born into a family w/ scholarly pedigree, this is luck. But it was an advantage if your family had money b/c the pursuit of a serious religious education required materials & travel. -rh
As I've noted, Abū Zurʿa's father had the means to take his son on a trip to hear hadith in Ramla.
Abū Zurʿa was from the Banū Naṣr b. Muʿāwiya who took part in the conquest of Syria and settled in Damascus & Ḥimṣ. -rh
Still a bit of luck needed here but an aspiring scholar could relocate. And LOCATION MATTERS. Cities like Damascus, Baghdad, and Kufa were the centers of religious learning not to mention the economic & cultural hubs of the caliphate. -rh
Or pop over to Abū Mushir's study circle at the Umayyad Mosque with your father. -rh
But if you lived in Damascus you could hear hadith from the numerous prominent scholars visiting your city. Abū Zurʿa reports studying w/ Ibn Maʿīn & Aḥmad b. Ṣāliḥ in his hometown. -rh
An aspiring scholar, like the young Abū Zurʿa, really had an advantage if they came from an urban, middle-class family with a respectable Arab tribal lineage. Are all these elements essential? No, but they certainly gave you a leg up. -rh
By the 3rd/9th c., the journey in search of knowledge (al-riḥla fī ṭalab al-ʿilm) was becoming a rite of passage for students who aspired to become religious authorities by becoming “inscribed within a prestigious genealogy of scholarship.” (Touati, 8)
And the likes of al-Samʿanī later praised him for “his absolute commitment to the search for knowledge.” -rh
It's time to parent and then prep for teaching so I'm (@richheffron) signing off for today. I didn't anticipate this thread being soooo long—my apologies!—but I promise to finish it up tomorrow. (Maybe the Iowa caucus results will be in by then 😏)
Most likely cont'd to attend hadith sessions but w/ out the aim of collecting high isnads. They would've settled down, had families & took up jobs as teachers, tutors, Quran reciters, artisans, gov't officials, etc.
Pic info: bit.ly/2SpDEcz
And this was how Abū Zurʿa productively whiled away his middle age—composing his "Taʾrīkh" & "Ṭabaqāt" while working & taking his sons to hadith sessions. -rh
So if you didn't live past AT LEAST 60, you almost certainly weren't going to be memorialized as a notable scholar for posterity.